Friday, May 13, 2011

ARC Review: Dead by Midnight by Carolyn Hart

Dead by Midnight
Author: Carolyn Hart
Publication: William Morrow (March 29, 2011)

Description: Solving puzzles comes naturally to Annie Darling, cheerful owner of the Death on Demand mystery bookstore on the lovely sea island of Broward's Rock. Annie is aided and abetted by her admiring husband, Max, who runs an unusual business that offers help to people in trouble.

A recent death appears to be suicide, but Annie suspects murder. To solve the case, she unravels the mystery of a towel hidden at midnight in a gazebo, the lack of fingerprints on a crystal mug, blood on a teenager's blue shirt, and the secret of a lovers' tryst.

Annie believes she has set the perfect trap for a merciless killer until her cell phone rings and Death whispers in her ear.

My Thoughts: This is Annie and Max's 21st mystery. I like these cozy mysteries because the clues are there for the reader to follow if the reader is sharp enough. Unfortunately, I'm not. The murderer came as a surprise to me. But the solution was clear and elegant when it finally arrived.

The story begins with the death of receptionist who had been fired from a law firm. It looked like suicide but Pat Merridew's friends didn't accept that. Since Pat had worked in Annie's bookstore for a few days before her death, Annie got involved too. 

Next came the death of the head of the law firm -- shot to death in his study, There were too many suspects -- the fired partner, the angry children, the sister who had be set aside by the new wife, and the cousin who came asking for money. Annie and Max investigate all of them on their way to the solution.

I like that Annie owns a mystery bookstore. I like the constant reference to other mystery books and authors. I recognized a few and am curious about quite a few more. I don't read as many straight mysteries these days as I used to. Too busy with urban fantasy and other paranormals, I guess. 

I do love the relationship between Annie and Max. She is the one with the Puritan work ethic and he is the born to independent wealth sort who would be willing to play through life buying art and supporting charities. I like the compromises they make in their marriage with Annie taking more time off to play and Max starting a business called Confidential Commissions to help solve people's problems. They work well as a team. He is particularly supportive of her. 

I like the touches of humor that Annie's mother-in-law Laura brings to the story. She is a woman who constantly flits from one enthusiasm to the next. In this one she is fixated on creating posters with beautiful cats and pithy statements of Cat Wisdom. Annie is balking at displaying them and selling them in her bookstore but does use them as aides to her thinking as she tries to puzzle out who committed the murders.

While this is the 21st in a series, it is fully possible to read this one independently. I think readers of mysteries would enjoy this charming mystery. 

Favorite Quote:
There's a lot to be said for MO. People act the way they're going to act. You can't have smart-as-a-whip and dumb-as-a-post in the same person. That's what I told Brice.

Brice Willard Posey, the circuit solicitor, rarely heeded advice.
I received this book for review as part of the Amazon Vine program. You can get your copy in hardcover or Kindle ebook or even audiobook.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! I am sold. I'm going to check out this book asap. I'm going to start in the beginning though. Thanks for sharing.


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